Review by Bears Fonte
World Premiering tonight, Julius Ramsay’s debut feature MIDNIGHTERS follows a terrible car accident with a cover up aftermath that spirals out of control, forcing an already strained marriage to confront how well they really know each other, or the sister they’ve taken into their house. Lead actress Alex Essoe was attracted to the project because Ramsay had directed some of her favorite Walking Dead episodes, as well as editing it. That attention to characters and tension shines through in this gritty crime thriller which Essoe describes as having a “neo-Hitchcockian vibe.”
Essoe plays Lindsey Pittman, a banker who seems to be, as Essoe admits, a bit of a doormat for everyone around her – her work, her slacker husband, her sister who is running away from some emotional warzone. “There is something about repressed personality that really interest me,” says Essoe, “once that breaking point occurs, its so unpredicatable what the character will do.” In the opening minutes of MIDNIGHTERS, a New Year’s Eve drive home stops suddenly when her husband Jeff hits a random man in the road. Having both been drinking at Lindsey’s work party, they try to bring the body back to their home until they sober up. It is there they discover the random accident might not have been so random at all.
“For much of the movie she is in the eye of the hurricane,” says Essoe about Lindsey, who must balance her loyalty to her husband, her sister, her desire to do the right thing, and her personal safety. “She’s not the one who put herself in this situation,” she says, but what’s exciting about the script is Lindsey never becomes another helpless female victim. MIDNIGHTERS is another example of a new era of genre films, where women drive the action as just as much as in the past when they might have run from danger. “This is my personal hope,” Essoe says, “but its starting to feel like it matters much less what gender a character is.”
MIDNIGHTERS is just the latest ride for Essoe in the genre playground, having charmed us in films like FASHIONISTA and her breakout performance in STARRY EYES. “There are no boundaries,” she says about why she loves working in genre films, “you can go out into the wilderness and see what you find, there are no archetypes.” Essoe is very quick to point out that films like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and ROSEMARY’S BABY always featured “seasoned actors directed by great filmmakers.” I would add A SIMPLE PLAN as well, one of my favorite films of the nineties and the most direct comparison I can think of for Ramsay’s MIDNIGHTERS.
Also featuring Perla Haney-Jardine (Steve Jobs, Spider-Man 3), Dylan McTee (MTV’s “Sweet Vicious”) and Ward Horton (Annabelle, The Wolf of Wall Street), MIDNIGHTERS premiers at Los Angeles Film Festival tonight. I’ll post more of my interview with Alex Essoe when the film comes out theatrically…